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Car bombing at Somali checkpoint kills at least 15, officials say

An explosives-laden vehicle detonated Saturday at a security checkpoint in the central Somalia city of Beledweyne, killing at least 15 people and wounding 40 others, authorities said.

Abdifatah Mohamed Yusuf, the director-general of the Hirshabelle Ministry of Humanitarian and Disaster Management, confirmed the deaths.

“Twenty of the wounded have been admitted to Beledweyne hospitals, while another 20 are in critical condition, prompting a request for their airlift to Mogadishu for advanced medical treatment,” he said.

Hirshabelle is a state that includes Beledweyne, which is the capital of the Hiran region and has been the center of the Somali government’s latest military offensive against extremists from East Africa’s al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Shabab. This isn’t the first time Al-Shabab has used such techniques: Apair of car bombings in October 2022 that targeted the country’s education ministry left 100 dead and hundreds more injured.

Images on social media showed black smoke billowing and a smashed truck cab blazing at the checkpoint.

Dr. Suleyman Abdi Ali, the director of Beledweyne General Hospital, said the bodies of 10 victims were brought to his hospital.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility from al-Shabab, which has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in Somalia in recent years, including an August2022 hotel siegethat injured over 100 people and killed 21.

“It was a truck loaded with explosive devices that forcefully passed through the government-manned checkpoint, and a pickup vehicle belonging to security personnel was chasing it when it exploded,” witness Abdikadir Arba, who said he was about 200 meters away and was one of the first responders, told The Associated Press by phone.

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